Motorsport: Mondello races at risk in row
Race meetings at Mondello Park next season are currently in jeopardy as a row brews about who runs the events.
Mondello have applied to Motorsport Ireland for club affiliation to run race meetings at the Kildare venue, but have met resistance from some established clubs.
With approval required from 75pc of the 35 affiliated clubs, the application from Mondello Park Sports Club has yet to get the required signatures of support, leading to fears that there will be little or no formal circuit racing at the venue in 2011.
Mondello's annual review meeting is due to be held in the next two weeks, by which time a decision will be made on race events for 2011.
If the Mondello club is not affiliated, then the circuit owners are likely to charge the current clubs a commercial rate to run events, as is the norm in the UK.
With relatively small grid numbers and a small pool of race classes in Ireland, it's likely that very few race meetings would be financially viable.
Mondello head of operations John Morris believes that his club is best placed to deliver well-run events to a strict schedule, unlike many of the traditional clubs, whose dwindling membership means they must call on support from Mondello or other clubs to fulfil their fixtures.
The current arrangement whereby the club takes a significant percentage of the competitor entry fees is, said Morris, unacceptable when certain clubs provide so little for the running of the meeting.
"Mondello already supplies all administration of event entries, all services related to the event and the event lap timing, race control and car recovery through the track team," said Morris.
"At one event this season, just one official from the organising club was on hand to assist in the running of the event, yet a significant percentage of entry fees went to that club. It's immoral.
"The clubs take no commercial risk in running an event yet are guaranteed a percentage of the entry fees even if it runs at a loss."
Morris is proposing that MPSC runs three events next season, with established clubs running the remaining five. He also insists that it is not a money-making exercise for Mondello and that the fees normally diverted into club coffers will instead be returned to the competitors.
"The competitors will benefit with discounts on entry fees and other incentives. Since we got involved in assisting at events a few years ago they have become better run and more efficient in every way," he added.
It is understood that there has been widespread competitor support for the MPSC initiative and a campaign of lobbying appears to have had some success in recent weeks in garnering support from clubs, the vast majority of whom are not involved in running race meetings at Mondello.
However, some clubs are resisting the change. Eddie Fitzgerald of the IMRC, who were the organising club of the contentious meeting last Easter, is concerned about the implications of Mondello running its own events. "I am not in favour of affiliation for MPSC, and the IMRC have not supported their application," said Fitzgerald. "If they become affiliated then we will end up in a Tesco-style, one-stop shop situation in a few years with one club running all the events."